Maybe it's a good thing the Cubs didn't install that new video board yet after all. Because if Javier Baez keeps hitting balls like the one he smacked on Wednesday night, they're going to have to replace the thing a couple times every season.
Baez had been making solid contact in his previous at-bats in the homestand, but just hadn't quite squared one up. But when Kyle Lohse grooved a 1-1 pitch, Javy turned on it with extreme prejudice and swatted it onto Waveland. And as impressive as his bat speed is, the velocity it imparts to the ball is equally awe-inspiring.
The blink-and-you'll-miss-it way the baseball leaves the frame makes you question whether Baez actually hit it, but the unmistakable "crrrack!" of lumber on leather confirms for the ears what the eyes can only guess at. By the time the sound of thunder reaches you, all that's left of the ball is a trail of flash-blindness.
Indeed, if it wasn't for that sound, I'd almost believe that the ball simply fled the yard for fear of the abuse it was about to receive. Whatever the reason, there was no doubt about the ball's destination once it got turned around at the plate, and it got out with plenty of room to spare.
The same can't be said for the one-time phenom slugger opposing Baez and the Cubs, as Ryan Braun came up just a little shy of a round tripper once again. Far be it for me to cast aspersions, but it sure seems Braun has lost a little something every since he ruined that poor sample collector's life.
But maybe it's just a down year or that pesky wrist injury. Yeah, that's got to be it.
Anyway, back to Baez and the Cubs, who defeated the Brewers for the second straight time behind an unheralded rookie pitcher. On Tuesday, it was eephus pitch specialist Kyle Hendricks baffling the Brew Crew before Tsuyoshi Wada allowed only 2 runs to earn the W.
Anthony Rizzo continued his power trip, following the Javy bomb by blasting his second homer in as many games, and Starlin Castro collected an RBI on three hits, raising his average to .285 in the process.
In addition to his epic bomb, Baez also hit a single and scored on one of Castro's aforementioned knocks. And speaking of knocks, if there is one on the young slugger so far, it's that he doesn't take walks. In fact, he had more home runs on Wednesday night than he has bases on balls...in his MLB career.
That's right: Javier Baez has yet to take 4 pitches off the plate in a single MLB at-bat. Of course, given his propensity to swing and miss, a lot of pitchers are actually challenging him and at least nibbling near the zone. And if it's true that the ball might occasionally fly away for fear of his swing, you can't really blame him for taking his hacks.
Now, I know I've talked about the swing a lot, but there's just one more little thing I need to say about it: It's not natural. No, I mean it, it's really not his natural swing. Javier Baez's natural tendency is to swing lefty but that bothered his hip so much that he became a righty.
Who knows, maybe the insanely ferocious cut he takes from the right side was developed as a compensatory measure. Still, I salivate just thinking about the prospect of seeing him doing the same thing from both sides as a switch hitter. But I guess the Cubs will just have to live with what they've got.
And what they've got is this:
Yeah, I think that'll play. Sure, there are still worries about the strikeouts and about how the Cubs will handle having two high-K hitters in the lineup once Kris Bryant is up as well. But they can cross that bridge when they come to it. For now though, just take another look at that video.
Now I defy you to not feel really good about what's in store for Javy Baez and the Cubs.
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